Electronic Medical Records (EMR) has become an essential component of the healthcare industry, given the continuous development and government backing. Once simply recognized as a tool for documenting basic clinical information, EMRs can now help physicians achieve much more with built-in clinical decision support systems. On-going development in health IT is ensuring that EMR systems can improve the quality of care whilst reducing clinical errors and oversights. Like any other industry, the growth in EMR technology will continue to raise the expectations of clinicians and administrators alike.
Health IT experts believe that the increasing rate of EMR adoption has also lead to more expectations from each individual user. Today, almost all physicians want a systematic solution that is easy to use and improves the overall quality of care. According to a healthcare IT executive, physicians were never fond of clinical documentation, but now as they are expected to produce electronic notes on a regular basis, they would rather prefer to have the computer do this for them.
It is not absurd to believe that technology is meant to make our lives easy and our work more convenient. However, thinking that technology would completely replace specialized personnel certainly defies logic. EMRs are designed to support the former statement. They help the healthcare community in accelerating workflow management and reducing the communication barriers. According to research, it is due to EMR adoption that physicians save up to 30 minutes of documentation time every day.
According to a study by HSC, when it comes to improved harmonization of patient care through EMRs, there exists a difference in the expectations of healthcare policy makers and that of clinicians. Another study indicates that physicians across different specialties face integration problems because of poor interoperability. Similarly, health IT experts are working towards the incorporation of Health Information Exchange (HIE) with EMR systems, in order to provide instant access to patient information anywhere across the nation while possibly reducing care disparity.
Physicians believe that, with the present capabilities of an EMR solution, achieving meaningful use stage 2 objectives will be a tedious job. The ONC plans on releasing new certification criteria as soon as the final rule is released. On the other hand, few of the established EMR vendors have already started working on the issues of interoperability in order to comply with the regulations and maintain a good market share.
I believe the adoption of EMR solutions will keep growing with time but so will user expectations. If recent surveys are anything to go by, it is easy to be optimistic about the positive impact of EMRs and one can only hope that EMR systems will keep improving over time.